Here’s How Marriam Mossalli’s Book “Under the Abaya” Empower Saudi Women  

Photo by Fang-Wei Lin on Unsplash

Marriam Mossalli founded “Under the Abaya: Street Style From Saudi Arabia.” It is a non-profit initiative. The first edition of the book provided an overview of modern Saudi women, and the second edition digs deeper, revealing their struggles and goals. Marriam Mossalli is a successful entrepreneur, mother, boss, and game-changer. Her mission is to see energetic Saudi women beyond the piece of cloth they wear.

“Under the Abaya: Street Style From Saudi Arabia,” her book, documented the Kingdom’s unique fashion scene and the Saudi women who own it. Women in Saudi Arabia have been concealed behind a screen in the digital world and a veil in the physical world for a long time. The book was unveiled on June 24 which is the same day Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on women driving a year before.

The story of the women in the Kingdom who were at the vanguard of this change is told in Under the Abaya. The book’s mission is to promote women’s empowerment and strive to support them locally and globally by putting them into the spotlight and allowing them to tell their own stories to the rest of the world.

When Mossalli was assembling the photographs for the first edition of “Under The Abaya” she discovered that many Saudi women were ready to contribute but were hesitant to disclose their identities. Mossalli witnessed that many women requested her to cut out their faces or expose only certain parts of their identity.

But only a year later, after the success of the first edition, she witnessed how many women were not only happily sending images displaying their complete faces but also insisted on publishing their full identities, in addition to their Instagram and Twitter handles. Slowly and steadily Saudi women started taking charge of their own lives.

Furthermore, the most recent edition, published in 2020, had the same text as the previous two but three different covers: one honoring Alkhobar, another Riyadh, and, of course, her hometown, Jeddah. She remarked that she might print five copies next time, so she does not forget the north and south.

In addition, Mossalli realizes that many people in the West are unaware of what Saudi women have had to cope with or confront. But she believes that this book will serve as a platform for future generations of young women to go for the heights. Her decisions were thoughtful and deliberate.